Fees at Jacksonville State University are now bundled and charged per credit hour in one ‘general university fee’, as opposed to the previous structure where each fee was listed individually. Program and course fees are not included in the bundled fee and are charged separately.
Students taking between one and three credit hours are charged $150 per credit hour for their general university fee; and students taking four to five credit hours are charged $125 per credit hour. For six or more credit hours, there is a flat rate of $700.
The bundled fee structure is inclusive of the athletic fee, Recreation and Fitness Center fee, general university fee, technology fee and student activity fee.
Students taking a fewer amount of credit hours pay less in fees under the new fee structure, but a student taking the traditional 12 credit hour course load pays an extra $113, or 19.25 percent more in fees; not including program and course fees.
When asked for the new allocations for the bundled ‘general university fee’, Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director, provided this breakdown:
Wellness Center, 37.01 percent
Transportation, 6.18 percent
Student Health Center, 3.82 percent
Technology Fee, 11.39 percent
Athletic Fee, 10.42 percent
Library, 3.93 percent
Student Activities, 3.41 percent
Classroom Upgrades, 7.99 percent
General Fund, 15.85 percent
Kyra Watral, a senior majoring in chemistry and biology, is taking 16 credit hours and has paid the bundled $700 general university fee.
“I hate it,” said Watral in reference to the new fee structure. “Not just because of the increase, but because of why. JSU has only had fees for a short time now, and they are already $700 a semester?”
Watral claims that JSU fits a different ‘niche’ than larger schools like Alabama and Auburn, and that JSU should not compete to become more like them in terms of campus size and cost of attendance.
“Instead of actually attempting to compete with other colleges by improving our academic programs, they’re just randomly building things and charging students for things we never asked for and don’t want or need while blatantly ignoring the things we are asking for, like updated residence halls and more parking,” said Watral.
She adds that while new fees have been added and increased, she has not seen those dollars in action to improve the School of Science.
“Last I was on campus [the end of July], Martin still had moldy boards covering up windows,” said Watral. “We have many different pieces of equipment that do not work and are just sitting around collecting dust.”
Lockette argues that many students were confused by the old fee structure and that the new fee structure was reorganized at the suggestion of the Tuition and Fees Committee.
“Part-time students taking only one course had to pay the same fees as those taking 16 hours,” said Lockette. “Now, fees are bundled and charged by the credit hour.”
Lockette points to the upgrades made to Mason Hall, Stone Center and Brewer Hall in defense of the university’s diligence on campus renovations.
“Soon, we will break ground on new buildings for the School of Health Professions and Wellness and School of Business and Industry,” said Lockette. “Both of these projects will provide the opportunity to increase parking on campus.
Each student who was enrolled at Jacksonville State University in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters paid a $200 ‘general university fee’ on top of numerous other small fees and hundreds of dollars in tuition per credit hour.
Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director, provided a breakdown of the general university fee from the JSU Controller’s office as well as information about how the allocations are decided.
Of the $200 fee, $60 went to transportation, $40 to student health, $35 to university recreation, $35 to the library, $15 to classroom improvements, $10 to capital planning and facilities and $5 to ‘special projects’. The special project for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was labeled ‘Marching Southerners’.
For Spring 2019, the university initially allocated $35 of the $200 fee to university recreation. Lockette later stated that the $35 for university recreation allocated in Spring 2019 was “re-allocated internally in the spring to capital projects to support technology upgrades in the classroom.” However, the $35 for university recreation in Fall 2018 was not reallocated.
“The Tuition and Fees Committee makes a recommendation each year to the President and VP of Business and Finance [James Brigham] and those recommendations are reviewed and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at the April trustee meeting,” said Lockette.
According to Blake Hunter, the coordinator of Institutional Research at JSU, during the fall semester of 2018, there were 8,479 students enrolled at JSU and in the spring semester of 2019 there were 7,726 students enrolled.
On average, Jacksonville State University students pay just shy of $4,000 for tuition each semester, not including fees. The JSU ‘general university fee’ generated an estimated $3,241,000 from both Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 alone, while the Recreation and Fitness Center fee, technology fee and student activity fee brought in an estimated $5,104,575.
Lockette went on to state that the fee allocations for the Fall 2019 semester have not been decided, and that fees for the upcoming semesters will be bundled and charged per credit hour.
For the summer, students taking between one to three credit hours pay a $100 general university fee and students taking three or more credit hours pay $200. However, despite the $100 difference between these two fees, students who paid $100 and those who paid $200 both have equal access to the Recreation Center for the entire summer.
Lockette confirmed that during the Summer 2019 semester, 95 percent of the general university fee was allocated to the Recreation and Fitness Center, while the remaining five percent is allocated for student health.
“As long as a student is taking at least one class, they will have access into the facility for the whole summer,” said Cecelia Chavez, the coordinator of facility operations for the Recreation Center.
Ashley Stephens, an art major at JSU who is taking summer classes, expressed dissatisfaction with the university over the two different fee amounts for equal summer Recreation Center access.
“As someone who is taking 11 hours and knowing that people taking only 3 hours don’t have to pay as much as me for fees makes me mad,” said Stephens. “It’s not fair to me and anyone who is trying to continue their education. This isn’t good for students’ pockets, and it’s not good for JSU’s image.”
Students like Emily Barfield, a cellular and molecular biology major, have no problem with allowing all summer students equal access to a facility she denotes as “necessary”.
“I’m taking six credit hours this summer so I paid the $200general university fee. I am not bothered that students who only paid $100 get to use the same recreation center that I get to use,” said Barfield. “On the other hand, I would be bothered if they just let any student, regardless if they were taking classes or not, use the recreation center after we had to pay the fee.”
The breakdown of where the general university fee is allocated is not readily available on the JSU website, nor is it reflected on students’ accounts when paying tuition and fees. The Chanticleer obtained the information by contacting Buffy Lockette, who then requested the information from the Controller’s office.
Stephens argues that the university should be more public with information pertaining to tuition and fees, including where the general university fee is allocated.
“I know most people want to know where their money is going,” said Stephens. “I think it can make the university look shady and like they’re withholding information from the students and their parents.”
Barfield sided with the university, citing the methods and practices of other universities.
“I looked into that [public accessibility of fee breakdown] with other universities and no other universities had anything about their fees or where the money actually goes posted on their websites,” said Barfield. “As much backlash as JSU has gotten from this recreation fee, I think they may even be less open about things moving forward.”
Lockette defends the university’s process of deliberating tuition and fee changes. She describes the Tuition and Fees committee as a “diverse mix of faculty, staff and students.”
“All trustee meetings are open to the public, the SGA President has a seat at the table, and the President’s office always sends a reminder email inviting the Chanticleer to attend,” said Lockette.
Editor’s note: Fees have been applied to student accounts for students who are already enrolled in fall classes. Starting in fall of 2019, the “General University Fee” covers all other fees (excluding individual program fees.) For students taking more than six hours this coming semester, the flat rate is $700, which is an $113 increase from previous semesters (based on an average student’s 12 hour semester.) For more information on the fall fees, visit JSU’s Office of Student Accounts page at http://www.jsu.edu/bursar/fees/index.html and look for a new article from The Chanticleer soon regarding the changes to the fee structure.
Jacksonville State University is where students are going but not staying over the weekends. This sleepy college has plans to make its campus more exciting.
The plan to increase the desire to be at JSU includes plans to improve housing and to add facilities that the students will benefit from. JSU’s campus may be undergoing several future developments, but the cost of attendance is not expected to change drastically, according to Beehler.
Instead, JSU’s tuition will lower some and balance with fees.
“We’re trying to balance the fees and the tuition, but the goal is to try to keep the tuition as low as possible,” Beehler said.
The students will notice an increase in fees for certain developments, but students already agreed to some such as the fee for the student rec center, according to Beehler.
The fee for the center, announced at the Board of Trustees meeting in October, is set a $150 per semester.
“Students don’t mind paying for things as long as they know what it’s for,” Beehler said in reference to all fees.
Student fees are not the only method funding future developments, according to both Brigham and Beehler. They said money is being collected through fundraising, donations, refunding of bonds, and through Three Ps. Brigham identified Three Ps as Public Private Partnerships.
Just the refunding of bonds is expected to save the university about $5 million, according to Beehler.
“We’re trying to get private money to supplement internal money for all the projects,” Beehler said.
There is going to be a balance between the developments that are made and the costs for them because the happiness and potential success of JSU students are important, according to Beehler.
“We’re being real fiscally responsible,” Beehler said.
One of the major developments the university is working on that is expected to generate excitement is a new student recreational center.
The new student rec center is absolutely necessary to making JSU more than a suitcase college, according to Beehler.
“It’ll make students want to stay here on the weekends,” Beehler said after pointing out that students tend to dislike what the Stephenson gym has to offer.
The students, faculty, and staff of JSU will decide what the new rec center will offer, according to Jim Brigham, director of internal audit/risk management for the university. Surveys were sent to everyone during the last week of September, so students and others could “indicate what their issues are and what their interests are,” he said.
Some students are not interested in the rec center at all. JSU junior Katie Cline thinks JSU should make improvements in other areas.
“I’m not opposed to a rec center—IF we didn’t have more important things that needed done. But right now, our priorities are skewed,” Cline said by email. “You don’t send video games to third world countries where they don’t have access to clean water.”
Other students are excited about the development. They consider the gym in Stephenson to be a turn off, according to Beehler.
After the surveys are reviewed, steps to begin construction can be made. The company consulting with JSU on the project in Brailsford and Dunlavey.
Joe Culloms, one of the company’s employees working on the project said JSU shows potential, and a facility like the center could be transformative for student life.
“There’s really a desire to see JSU offer a more rich campus life experience, and a facility like this would really give students a reason to stay on campus and stay over the weekend,” Culloms said.
Brailsford and Dunlavey are excited about the project, and JSU’s leaders only strengthen that, according to Culloms.
“Without fail, JSU has been responsive and a great partner,” Culloms said.
JSU students are likely to stay at the university over the weekends if they are comfortable with their living area, which is one reason university officials plan to improve housing.
Sparkman Hall is currently the first residence hall that is being looked at for renovations, but it will not be the only dorm to get improvements, according to Beehler.
Sparkman was closed for the 2015-2016 school year because there were plans to renovate the entire inside of the building. However, due to enrollment increasing, the second floor was renovated and currently houses students, according to Beehler. He said the future plan for Sparkman and other residence buildings is to turn the typical dorms into more suite-like apartments.
“Student’s these days don’t like the kind of dorms that I went to when I was an undergraduate,” Beehler said with a laugh. “We’re looking at doing renovations to some of the existing facilities with the idea that down the road a little ways, we’ll build new apartment-condo type student housing.”
Director of Residence Life Rochelle Smith is excited about the upcoming developments. Students have the right to decide what kind of housing they are given which is why constant surveys make their ways into student inboxes, according to Smith.
“We want to put our students first and the needs our students first,” Smith said.
She said doing so should decrease the amount of students going home on the weekends.
Students want housing that will make them comfortable, and they also want facilities that will keep them entertained, according to Beehler.
Another upcoming university project is mainly devoted to an organization people cannot miss. The largest organization on campus, The Marching Southerners, are getting a new practice field. It’s a project that will be put to good use by a deserving organization, according to Beehler.
“When most people think of the university, they think of the Southerners before they think of anything else,” Beehler said smiling. “I like to reward excellence like that.”
The Southerners influenced incoming freshman Madeline Hann’s decision to come to JSU.
“I’ve heard really wonderful things about the academics and the campus as a whole,” Hann said but quickly added, “Also, I really want to be a part of the Southerners’ Color Guard.”
The Marching Southerners have used the parking lot of Pete Mathews Coliseum since the early 1970s, according to Kenneth Bodiford, director of bands. Countless hours of practice have been spent of the asphalt that radiates heat in the first few months of the season. Members have suffered from shin splints and gotten sick from heat exhaustion as a result of the hard blacktop, according to Beehler. Bodiford said three ballerinas are unable to finish the marching season because of knee injuries caused by practicing on the asphalt. He said a new turf field will reduce these occurrences.
Bodiford is excited about the development for more than just the Southerners. He said this sort of development will keep students on campus because it will give them a place to have fun over the weekend.
“It’s really going to benefit not only the Southerners in the fall, but in the spring, it’ll benefit all the rest of the students here who participate in intramural sports,” Bodiford said.
The practice field should also benefit Beehler’s plan for increased enrollment, according to Bodiford.
“I think it’ll be great for recruiting,” Bodiford said in reference to the Southerners and students interested in intramural sports.
The field will be located in the open space between the Park Place II apartments and fraternity houses, according to Bodiford.
President John Beehler of JSU spent his first 15 months at the university observing where the university was and where its potential could take it.
“We’re looking at everything with a fresh eye asking what do we have, what don’t we have, etcetera,” Beehler said.
What Beehler noticed upon his arrival is that interest in the university was declining. However, that changed with the current semester. Enrollment rose 5.6 percent, which is the first increase the university has seen in six years, according to Beehler. He wants more though and has started the process of strategic planning to get there.
“We’ve done a lot in particular focused on the student and focused on making the student want to come here, making the student want to stay here and graduate, and make student life better for the students,” Beehler said.
For over 100 years, JSU served as a welcoming home for students and still does. The university transforms kids into adults. It puts the dreams of students within their reach.
Now JSU is increasing these opportunities through upcoming developments. It is becoming more of what students want while still giving them what they need.
Students are going to JSU, and JSU is going places.
Welcome home, Gamecocks.
The line graph above compares the number of people who utilized dining services for two weekends at Jacksonville State University. One weekend, represented by the dark blue line, is from the JSU Homecoming football game weekend. The other represents a weekend where there was not a football game.
The amount of visits to the different JSU dining facilities represents the number of JSU students who stay at the university over the weekend. The figures were provided by Katie Tyler, the marketing coordinator for dining services at JSU. She said that there is a margin of error of about 200 for Friday and a margin of error of about 100 for Saturday and Sunday because the figures include faculty members and local churches that dine at the university.
As the line graph indicates, there is a significant drop in the number of students who stay on campus. Tyler said the number of students who eat on campus during the week versus the weekend is noticeable.
“We definitely notice that students go home on the weekend,” Tyler said.
Tyler said she thinks that developments to campus could potentially increase the number of students who stay on campus over the weekend.